Suspect in Montgomery bank robberies, chase wants to apologize to police, sister says

Officer Marcus Dixon reacts to the heat as he stands guard at the spot where the shooting occurred. The getaway car is in the background.
Officer Marcus Dixon reacts to the heat as he stands guard at the spot where the shooting occurred. The getaway car is in the background. (Michael S. Williamson/the Washington Post)
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By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 9, 2010

Lying in a hospital bed in Baltimore, a tube stuffed down his throat so he can breathe, 30-year-old Samuel Faulk communicates with family members and doctors by blinking his eyes.

One blink for yes. Two for no. This is what human interaction has been reduced to, family members say, for the bank robbery suspect who was shot Tuesday by a Montgomery County police officer after police say he drove his car in the officer's direction at the end of a chase.

Faulk has communicated with family members about the shots that put him in the hospital. But he's not angry.

He's sorry, they say.

"He wants to issue an apology not just to the bank but to Montgomery County police for the chase and everything," said Faulk's sister, L. Brandé Hilton. "His intention was not to hurt anybody. It was just all about money."

Police say Faulk robbed two PNC bank branches in Montgomery on Tuesday morning -- literally jumping over the counter and grabbing cash at the second one -- before leading officers on a car chase that ended in a cornfield on Bowman Acres Lane in Damascus.

Faulk was shot, police said, when he tried to drive out of the cornfield and in the direction of an officer, who opened fire amid a cloud of dust and gravel. One bullet struck Faulk in the neck, and his car stopped in a neighboring yard, police and family members said.

The officer who shot Faulk, Dennis Roland, declined to comment. He was not hurt, police said. Officers have not said whether Faulk was armed, and he has not been charged in either bank robbery.

Faulk had been released from jail the day before the shooting. He was there for violating the terms of his probation in an earlier case. According to a probation report, Faulk tried to engage in sexual activity he ordered through Craigslist. Although he was not charged with a crime, it was enough to bring him back into court on a probation violation, court records show.

The probation stemmed from a 2007 case in which Faulk was convicted of a third-degree sex offense after being accused of raping an 11-year-old girl. According to police charging documents, Faulk admitted to having sex with the girl but said she initiated the contact. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Since then, several women have sought protective orders or criminal charges against Faulk, accusing him of assaulting them or of sending threatening text and Facebook messages, court records show.

Hilton, Faulk's sister, said she was not aware of the case that put her brother on probation, but the protective orders and assault charges stemmed from ex-girlfriends lying about Faulk so he would be sent back to jail. Often, she said, those charges were dropped.

Hilton said Faulk, who was self-employed as a computer engineer, was under intense financial pressure because of his legal troubles. She said he was also trying to help the family pay rent and help her pay for treatment of ovarian cancer.

"He just got tired, because there's bills he got to pay," Hilton said. "He's feeling tired. He's feeling like he's backed up against the wall."

Faulk complained in court records about his financial situation. In June, he was charged with forgery and other related counts on suspicion of trying to pass a counterfeit check for $3,500. Later that month, he wrote a letter to his probation agent saying that the forgery charge was the result of a "bad decision."

He wrote that he could not find employment and listed some of his expenses, which included $325 a month for doctor visits, $2,500 in lawyer's fees and back rent of more than $24,000. Faulk's landlord confirmed that Faulk's family was several months behind in rent and was being evicted.

"It seems I [am] having a run of bad luck," Faulk wrote. "To deal with everything from eviction, to a new job, to court dates, to not having a relationship . . . is too much for one person [to] handle."

Frances Wade, Faulk's mother, said her son is a "very good person" who was "under a lot of stress." She said that he had never robbed a bank and that she never imagined his troubles would drive him to such an extreme measure.

"My son worked hard. Sometimes he worked two jobs," she said. "We all in the same situation with the economy, and a lot of people get stressed out, and this is what caused it."

Faulk was taken back into custody last Friday for the probation violation, and a judge set bond at $50,000. Family members were not able to raise the cash for a bail bondsman to post it until Monday, Hilton said. Hilton said she was too tired to drive and pick her brother up, so she called a cab to bring him home. The last she saw him, she said, he took the keys to his car, kissed her forehead and said, "Get some sleep."

Hours later, he was captured on surveillance video at the PNC bank.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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